As newlyweds, you and your spouse will be blending all aspects of your life, including your finances, which means the two of you will be sharing your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. As such, it’s a good idea to discuss your financial management plan as a couple as early as possible. It’s certainly ideal to talk things through when it comes to money matters since it is one the most common sources of disagreements in the first three years of marriage.
While your household finances isn’t the most romantic topic of conversation out there, it’s a subject that certainly needs to be discussed. It allows you to plot the best ways to handle your money, from paying your bills to managing your savings, all while supporting the lifestyle that you want for yourselves. It also helps you prepare for future plans, like adding new members to your family.
As you transition from handling your finances independently to doing it as husband and wife, here are six practical money management tips you can take into consideration.
Buy Household Items Secondhand
When moving into your new home, it can be tempting to purchase brand new household items to welcome your new life together as a married couple. However, getting new furniture and appliances to match your new home can be a costly choice. Unless you have the budget to buy everything brand new, you can consider getting some of them secondhand. It will help you save up money and still furnish your home.
Additionally, purchasing secondhand is a great way to discover quality items at lower prices. You’re likely to find a second hand sofa or dining set in good condition at a fraction of the cost that you would typically pay for when you get the set brand new. Moreover, you’re also more likely to stumble upon unique pieces when you buy secondhand, since many of these items are no longer being produced or they may come from faraway places where the original owners lived. Think of furniture and decorative pieces of rare designs, or even custom creations you probably wouldn’t find elsewhere.
Open a Joint Account for Household Expenses
Having a joint account mainly for household expenses will help you monitor the money that comes in and out of your coffers. You can also use it as your central fund to pay for your common household expenses such as food, rent, utility bills, and others. Sharing a joint account also allows both of you to access the money should you encounter emergencies.
And if you’re wondering about whether or not it’s advisable to keep separate accounts as a married couple, the short answer is “it’s totally up to you.” Many relationship experts and even long-time couples recommend the practice of letting one’s spouse maintain their financial independence while also sharing financial responsibilities.
Talk about Who Pays for What
If you have a two-income household, be sure to define what your monthly contributions will be for the household. You can also discuss how much you’ll give to the joint account monthly, as well as how much you’ll spend, save, and invest. In case you prefer maintaining separate accounts, you can assign certain payments to each other. This can depend on your earnings and if you have any loan obligations to fulfill before getting married.
Some couples assign between them who will manage certain daily expenses. One might be assigned to handle food, utilities, and transportation, while the other might be tasked to make contributions toward the household’s insurance, retirement funds, and investments. This is a practical approach because you get to distribute your household’s financial responsibilities. That said, make sure that these financial responsibilities are distributed equitably.
Set Up a Luxe Fund
Do you want a new smart TV or go on a vacation? Prepare for these non-essential expenses by creating a “luxe fund” and channeling a portion of your income into it. Doing this will allow you to still take care of essential expenses while saving up for the little luxuries you want. Also, it’s a good practice to splurge on dispensable expenses only when you already have enough budget for them. It will help teach both you and your spouse to plan and control your spending.
Build an Emergency Fund
It’s never too early to set up an emergency fund, and you won’t regret doing it. An emergency fund is a stash of money (ideally a separate savings account) that you set aside in case the unexpected happens, such as a health emergency, a home repair emergency, or a retrenchment at work.
When considering how much of your monthly budget you should set aside for your emergency fund, you can follow the typical recommendation of stashing away at least 6 months’ worth of living expenses. To do this, you’ll need to set aside 10 percent or more of your gross income each month, and you need to keep saving until you have the amount you need—or more.
If you want to ensure you regularly put money into your emergency fund, you can set up an automatic transfer with your bank or take turns with your spouse putting money into the account every month. If you begin creating an emergency fund now, you can slowly grow it over time, which should give you peace of mind should you encounter any unexpected issues in the future.
Update Your Accounts
Many newlyweds move into new homes after getting married. If you’ll have this kind of arrangement as well, make sure to notify the banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, and investment companies you have accounts with about the change in your address or contact information. You also have to inform these institutions about your change in marital status because the union will have a bearing on your legal entitlements to one another’s financial assets and estates.
When it comes to managing finances, it’s up to you as a couple to discuss what works best for you. However, if you’re looking for time-tested pieces of advice, make sure to consider the abovementioned tips. These will help you settle in your new life as husband and wife, and they will help you prepare financially for your future.